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Patients & Visitors Pet Therapy - Compassion Unleashed

Pet Therapy - Compassion Unleashed

​​Thank you for your interest in pet therapy! This page provides answers to some of the most important and commonly asked questions. If you have additional questions, please call 608-258-6640. 

Q: How long has SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - Madison had a Pet Therapy Program? 

A: The program started in 2004 with a single team and has grown to more than 20 teams visiting most of the hospitals, plus the SSM Health Emergency Center in Sun Prairie. ​

Q: What kind of certification or registration is required?

A: SSM Health St. Mary's and many other facilities require teams to be registered with one of three national pet therapy organizations:

Q: Can SSM Health St. Mary's help cover the costs required to get registered? 

A: Yes, SSM Health St. Mary’s has a scholarship program intended to assist Madison-area teams interested in Pet Therapy. The scholarship is open to all, as it is intended to help cover some of the additional costs incurred by pet therapy volunteers. ​Download the scholarship application.​ 

Q: Are there set times that I need to bring my pet in to visit?

A: teams can set either flexible or structured schedules during weekdays, weeknights and/or weekends. Teams are expected to visit at least once per month. 

Q: Is it possible to follow a team on a visit to learn more about the SSM Health St. Mary's Pet Therapy program?

A: Yes, there are opportunities to shadow a team on a visit if you are interested in seeing whether you or your dog would enjoy the atmosphere at SSM Health St. Mary's. 

Q: Does a therapy dog have to be as well trained as a service dog?

A: Most of the time, dogs that participate in pet therapy are family pets; they are not expected to be as well behaved as a service dog. If your dog is obedient and is comfortable going into new and different situations, they may already be well on their way to becoming a therapy dog. 

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